Holiday traditions are one of the best parts of the season. Decorations inside and out. Present giving and getting. A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Rockettes. The Nutcracker. Dinner with friends and family. Singing Christmas carols. Baking favorite family recipes. Whatever your traditions are, we all have some that we look forward to year after year. I may have seen that Charlie Brown cartoon a dozen times, but somehow it never gets old. It’s strange how the holiday season reinforces our routines, our old habits, perhaps more than any time of year. But those routines are welcome with open arms.
Christmas brings with it its fair share of food traditions as well. Stollen, panettone, prime rib, cookies, ham, candy canes, mincemeat tarts, butter cookies. The holidays have a lot of amazing food attached to them. More recently peppermint bark has become a serious holiday tradition. Williams Sonoma is probably most famous for it and now has several different spins on it, including cookies.
I did have their peppermint bark years ago before my pesky allergy. In fact it was one of my favorite things. I would look forward to unwrapping it on Christmas morning and then heading to the store after the holiday to stock up on more if there happened to be some left. I ate it left and right. But now, I can’t as the bottom layer is chocolate. That doesn’t mean I can’t make my own.
White chocolate chips? Check. Peppermint candies? Check. I needed another layer. Something to give the bark some pizzazz, make it different, special, holiday. A trip to Wal-Mart for Gingerbread Oreos (so yummy – do yourself a favor and pick up a package or five), I discovered Andes mint chips without chocolate. White chocolate and peppermint candies, meet your new friend Andes chips.
Not only is this one of the easiest things I’ve ever made, it’s also one of my new favorite recipes. A layer of melted Andes chips, followed by a layer of melted white baking chips is completed by a sprinkling of peppermint candy. I used Old Timey Peppermint Candy Sticks that Dad picked up at Cracker Barrel. I fell in love with them, as they have that great peppermint flavor, but are surprisingly soft. They make a great complement to the bark itself. You may use any peppermint candy you like. I also melted the chips in the microwave, rather than on the stove top – super easy. The hardest part is waiting for the bark to chill, but it’s totally worth it.
I thought I’d enjoy my version of Peppermint Bark, but not this much. It instantly took me back to the store bought version of the holiday treat. Biting through the moderately thick bark, having the flavor of pure peppermint fill my mouth as it slowly melts away. It transported me to the Christmases of my youth. This stuff is addictively good and will become a new tradition for your holiday season.
- 1 cup Andes mint chips
- 1 cup white baking chips
- 2 Old Timey Peppermint Candy Sticks, coarsely crushed
- Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
- In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the Andes mint chips in 30 second intervals, stirring vigorously in between. It will take a few intervals to get them fully melted. Pour immediately into the prepared pan and smooth. You may not want to spread them all the way to the edges. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until solid.
- After the bottom layer is chilled, melt the white baking chips in a small microwave safe bowl, using the same method as with the Andes chips. When they are melted, pour them immediately onto the Andes layer and spread to cover it completely. Sprinkle with peppermint candies. Chill in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes or until fully set.
- Break or cut into bite size pieces and enjoy. May be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.